Lonely no more, hello friends

17/06/2018 at 11:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This week, 18th to 22nd June, is Loneliness Awareness Week. Organised by Marmalade Trust, it aims to lift the lid on an uncomfortable subject. Show me someone who has never been lonely, and I will show you someone with a poor memory. Just look at this video of children talking about loneliness. Their words are touching and universal.

There is no one way of feeling lonely. There is no one age that is exempt. Almost half of all UK adults admit to feeling lonely at least some of the time. You can be lonely because you live on your own and don’t see many people. You can be lonely because you feel excluded from a social group.

Renting a flat with strangers can be a lonely feeling. So can dropping your child off at school and going home to an empty house. And it’s easy to feel lonely in a busy workplace, when you’d rather be with people you love.

Brief periods of loneliness are ok. They teach us to appreciate friends. But a long period of isolation can seem like solitary confinement. It eats into self-confidence. It erodes that all-important feeling that we are loved, and lovable.

This week, while the national focus is on loneliness, there are some valuable things that you can do.

Be aware of loneliness

Notice the emotion within yourself. Notice it in others. Don’t dismiss it, or call it by another name. Loneliness, like all emotions, is an honest feeling and can serve a purpose in creating change for the better.

Address your own loneliness

A simple step is this: each morning, write down a short list of achievable things to do that day. Include at least one item that is important to you: an interest of yours that perhaps has fallen by the wayside; or a cause you feel passionately about. Prioritise that item. Do whatever you can to complete it during your day. The chances are that doing so will include life-enhancing interactions with like-minded people.

Address the loneliness of others

Take a step to alleviate other people’s isolation. Make a point of talking to them in a friendly way, without any agenda. Create a sociable activity that will include local isolated people. Then follow up after that event. From time to time, have a friendly conversation with them. Start noticing, and caring about their wellbeing. In short, be a friend.

Make new connections

Here are some small steps that can help to banish loneliness: put your phone down to talk to someone on the bus, train, in the cafe or waiting room. Invite your colleagues to share the lunch break, share a smile with someone, ring an old friend or relative… what else might you add to that list?

In the heart of a lonely man

27/11/2017 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Spring tea

Fragrant and nourishing spring tea.

 

I remember travelling to a seaside town in the south west with my family. I remember that we went into a café for lunch. I don’t remember what we ate, but I do remember the salty tang of the sea air, and the sun-burnt faces of fellow diners.

I remember breastfeeding my baby daughter in the café. I remember the bliss that arrived as the milk flowed.  And I remember that I smiled down at my daughter and looked up, still smiling, to gaze directly into the eyes of a man, sitting at a nearby table, who was staring at me. I remember how bereft he looked. His expression was one of absolute loss. It was a naked expression, as though he’d been caught out by his own silent sadness, almost as though he hadn’t even realised it was there.

That man’s expression has stayed with me these past 12 years. It seems to me that he was expressing, so beautifully, the longing of the lonely soul. We all have lonely elements within us – parts of us that went unnourished at a critical time. At its simplest, it seems to me that I could roll back time to see the man returned to his baby form, left to cry for lack of milk and nurturing.

So that’s why I wrote ‘Milk of Kindness’. And that’s why I’m so pleased it’s just been published in The Poetic Bond VII. I’m privileged to be one of 50 poets represented in the book, which was compiled by Trevor Maynard.

There’s no way that I can know what happened to the man in the café all that time ago. But wherever he is, I wish him peace and kindness.

How to transform your relationships with one fascinating word

05/06/2017 at 10:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Blue mountainscape

Understanding  blends knowledge with kindness. When you apply understanding to a relationship, conflicts crumble. Dynamics alter. Ego gives way to empathy.

An understanding person comprehends something or someone with compassion. They hold a cup of knowledge that contains kindness and love as well as wisdom and perception.

Understanding can strengthen a floundering relationship. If a partnership is ending, it can enable that to happen with love rather than anger. Understanding can also be a wonderful doorway to laughter and humour which in themselves can heal relationships.

Understanding is our meditation word in the Studio this week.

How could applying this word alter a challenging situation for you?

 

The real meaning of ‘aura’

13/03/2017 at 10:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Aura photo

Photo courtesy of Christopher Campbell/Unsplash

This week, in my meditation studio, we’re focusing on the word ‘aura’. But what does that actually mean?

The Cambridge Dictionary is a good starting point. Aura is defined there as ‘a feeling or character that a person or place seems to have’ and also as ’a type of light that some people say they can see around people and animals’.

To get a truly authentic sense of the word, however, we need to go back in time.

Aura was a Greek goddess, a personification of the breeze, breath and fresh, cool air. Her name came from an ancient seed word meaning breeze, or fresh air.

So ‘aura’ evokes a presence. It can encapsulate the spirit of an individual, or a community, or a place. It has a freshness about it, a sense of movement: new ideas and invigorating air arrive; old energies and air depart.

When healers and other energy therapists use the word ‘aura’, they’re generally referring to the energy field of a person, or other living being. Healers talk about sensing ‘stuck’ energy, a lack of flow in certain parts of a human energy field that can be associated with areas of pain or discomfort.  Linked with the physical discomfort may well be emotional issues that have not been fully processed – that have been ‘stuck’ in some way. The healing process enables flow to return to these areas. Physical symptoms can improve. Emotional wellbeing can return.

In this context it makes perfect sense that Aura, the classical personification of fresh air and breezes, is meant to be a gently dynamic force. When a person is fit and healthy there seems to be a glow and vibrancy about them – in some immensely subtle way, they shimmer. Likewise, when a person is very happy they glow. Think about a young couple who are about to marry, for example. Or think about a woman when she is expecting a baby.  In contrast, when someone has clinical depression, it can feel as though they are stuck in their sad emotions.

We notice auras without always realising it. Someone is ‘full of hot air’. Someone else has a quietly menacing air. Yet another person has a reassuring presence.

Being aware of auras in this way helps us choose wisely how we deal with situations and people. The truth is that noticing auras is a good life skill for all of us.

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